It's difficult to create a film that's fast paced, exciting, and aesthetically appealing without diluting its dialogue. Run Lola Run, directed and written by Tom Tykwer, is an enchanting balance of pace and narrative, creating a universal parable that leaps over cultural barriers. This is the story of young Lola (Franka Potente) and her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu). In the space of 20 minutes, they must come up with 100,000 deutsche marks to pay back a seedy gangster, who will be less than forgiving when he finds out that Manni incompetently lost his cash to an opportunistic vagrant. Lola, confronted with one obstacle after another, rides an emotional roller coaster in her high-speed efforts to help the hapless Manni--attempting to extract the cash first from her double-dealing father (appropriately a bank manager), and then by any means necessary. From this point nothing goes right for either protagonist, but just when you think you've figured out the movie, the director introduces a series of brilliant existential twists that boggle the mind. Tykwer uses rapid camera movements and innovative pauses to explore the theme of cause and effect. Accompanied by a pulse-pounding soundtrack, we follow Lola through every turn and every heartbreak as she and Manni rush forward on a collision course with fate. There were a variety of original and intelligent films released in 1999, but perhaps none were as witty and clever as this little gem--one of the best foreign films of the year. --Jeremy Storey
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